Inside the conference where researchers are solving puzzles about clean energy

The Advanced Research Projects Agency in Energy (ARPA-E) funds high-risk, high-return energy research projects, and each year the agency hosts a summit where Grantees and other researchers and energy companies can gather to discuss what’s new in the field.

When I listen to presentations, meet researchers, and especially when wandering around the gallery, I often have a vague feeling of a whip. Standing at a booth trying to think about how we could measure the amount of carbon stored by plants, I would look over and see another group focused on making nuclear fusion a practical way. more real to power the world.

There are many tried and true solutions that can start to tackle climate change right now: wind and solar power are being deployed on a large scale, electric vehicles are going mainstream. mainstream and new technologies are helping companies produce both fossil fuels. produce less pollution. But as we take the easy wins, we’ll also need to get creative to tackle the more difficult areas and achieve net-zero emissions.. Here are a few fascinating projects from the ARPA-E showcase that caught my attention.

evaporating rock

“I heard you have rocks here!” I cried out as I approached Quaise Energy Train station.

The Quaise booth had a screen that flashed through some quick events and demonstration videos. And of course, on the table were two stones. They look a little worse when worn, each with a quarter-size hole in the middle, with notches around the edges.

These rocks have reached the point of fire to serve one big goal: making geothermal energy possible anywhere.. Today, the high temperatures required to generate electricity using heat from the Earth can only reach close to the surface in certain parts of the planet, like Iceland or the western United States.

In theory, geothermal energy could be deployed anywhere, if we could drill deep enough. Getting there, however, won’t be easy and may require drilling 20 kilometers (12 miles) below the surface. That’s deeper than any oil and gas drilling done today.

Instead of crushing layers of granite with conventional drilling technology, Quaise plans to penetrate the more stubborn parts of the Earth’s crust using high-powered millimeter waves to rock vaporization. (It’s like a laser, but not quite.)

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